Category: India

Surprising Tour in India

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India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain – from Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline – and history reaching back 5 millennia. In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi’s Red Fort complex and massive Jama Masjid mosque, plus Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga centre and base for Himalayan trekking.

India has long been known as the mystical land, packed with beautiful architecture, rich history and a great diversity of cultural heritage. Here are the 18 best places to visit in India that should definitely be on your bucket list, when looking to explore this exciting land…

1. Taj Mahal, Agra

Commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 in the memory of his late wife, the Taj Mahal was constructed over a span of 20 years by 20,000 artisans. Regarded as one of the finest examples of Mughal Architecture in India, the Taj Mahal is the most visited attraction in India.

Traveller Tip: Go early in the morning when the marble is not too hot and the monument is not too crowded to enjoy. Perfect time: around 5:30 in the morning.

Things to do nearby: Visit the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri which also showcase beautiful Mughal architecture.

2. Qutub Minar, New Delhi

Known as the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutub Minar is housed in the Qutub Complex. Standing at over 70 meters, it takes 379 steps to reach the top. The tower showcases detailed marble inlays, stunning latticed stone screens, and beautiful Kufic calligraphy in its Arabic inscriptions. Do take some time out to see the miraculous Iron Pillar which was created in the 4th century, and still has scientists puzzled over its resistance to corrosion.

Traveller Tip: Plan your visit during the three-day Qutub Festival held every year, to enjoy some great Sufi music and interesting dance performances. This year it will take place from November 15th to 19th. Entry is free.

Things to do nearby: Check out some great food at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Thai High, Qla and Café 79, all of which are within a kilometre of the Qutub Minar. Or sit on the terrace of Dramz The Whisky Bar and sip on a fine glass of Scotch, while enjoying the sight of a lit-up Qutub Minar.

3. Golden Temple, Amritsar

Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, is known as the holiest shrine for Sikhs and is open to men and women from all religions and walks of life. The community kitchen offers free wholesome food to over 100,000 people every day, making sure no one in the city goes to sleep hungry. A spectacle in itself, the temple is covered with over 100 kilograms of gold, giving it its popular English name.

Traveller Tip: Spend a few hours praying at the temple, take a dip in the holy lake surrounding the temple and eat at the community kitchen.

Things to do nearby: Just a few minutes’ walk from Golden Temple is the Jallianwala Bagh, a much-famed landmark of the Indian Freedom Movement.

4. Khardung La Pass, Ladakh

A treacherous, yet beautiful mountain pass in the Ladakh region of Jammu Kashmir, Khardung La lies north of Leh at a height of 17,582 ft. A gateway to Shyok and Nubra valleys, this pass is famous for being one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Once there, you can opt for paragliding over Ladakh or try your luck with the Ladakh Marathon, a gruelling 4-part race in the mountains.

Traveller Tip: Biking to Khardungla? Plan a longer trip with an overnight stay in the picturesque Nubra Valley.

Things to do nearby: Visit the 3 most beautiful lakes of Ladakh- Pangong, Tso Moriri, and Tso Kar.

5. Sundarbans, West Bengal

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising of three wildlife sanctuaries, the Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world. Spread over 10,000 square kilometres, the forest is intersected with a complex network of tidal waterways, small islands and mudflats. The area is home to a wide range of flora and fauna with over 260 bird species, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Estuarine Crocodile and the Indian Python.

Traveller Tip: Navigate the water ways for a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger and go bird watching to spot over 260 different species of birds.

Things to do nearby: Check out nearby resorts for plays enacted by locals about the history of the Sundarbans.

6. Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple, Tirupati

Millions of devotees visit the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple every year to get a glimpse of the eight-foot tall idol of Lord Venkateswara adorned with gold, diamonds and flowers. The Shri Venkateshwara temple is the wealthiest temple in India due to the sheer number of generous donations by the devotees. Truly a divine experience!

Traveller Tip: Book your Tirupati temple darshan at least a month in advance as about 60,000 pilgrims visit it every day.

Things to do nearby: Tirupati is a foodie’s delight. Some popular eateries are Andhra Spice, Hyderabad House and Maurya Restaurant.

7. Tsomgo lake, Sikkim

Gangtok’s most famous tourist place, Tsomgo Lake is a photographer’s dream. Also known as the Changu Lake, this glacial lake is a kilometre long and about fifty metres deep and changes colour. Surprised? The lake surface reflects different colours with the change of seasons and stays mostly frozen through winter. Its resplendent beauty makes up for the 40 km long journey from Gangtok.

Traveller tip: The lake is located in a restricted area and it is essential for all visiting Indians to obtain permits. In case of foreign nationals, special permits are required.

Things to do nearby: After exploring Tsomgo Lake, your next stop should be Nathula Pass.

8. Radhanagar Beach, Andamans

Radhanagar Beach is proclaimed to be the best beach in Asia and the seventh best beach in the world, as listed by Time Magazine. There is white sand spread out under your feet, a lush green forest on one end and clear aqua green water as far as you can see. Due to its popularity, one would expect it to be a crowded beach, but if you walk a hundred metres to the left or right, you will be able to enjoy a peaceful time.

Traveller tip: Though a perfectly safe beach for swimming in the day, exercise caution after sunset as the waves get intense.

Things to do nearby: There are also a number of other beaches nearby like the Elephant Beach, where you can engage in snorkelling and other water sports.

9. Tea Gardens, Munnar

Situated at the confluence of three mountain streams, Munnar is a picture-perfect town with winding lanes and sprawling tea plantations. The air is fragrant with a mild scent of spice and the views are breath-taking. When here, take a trekking trip to Eravikulam National Park and climb the summit of Anamudi Peak, visit the beautiful lakes of Mattupetty or head to Chinnakanal to witness the beauty of a 2000 meter high waterfall.

Traveller tip: The best things to buy in Munnar are tea, coffee, spices and home-made chocolates.

Things to do nearby: Even if you are not a tea lover, a visit to the Tea Museum at the Nallathanni Estate will be a fun experience.

10. Auroville, Puducherry

Known as the ‘City of Dawn’, Auroville was started in 1968 with the mission of being a universal town, where men and women for all countries could live in harmony, removed from all barriers of creed, politics and nationality; and that is exactly what it is. Auroville is a haven of peace along the beautiful Coromandel coast. Visit the mesmerising Matrimandir and the Auroville beach, sample a mix of local and international food in one of Auroville’s many different eateries and do visit the Auroville bakery for a global taste of baked goodies. Most importantly, mingle with the residents and let the positive energy of this global hamlet enter you.

Traveller Tip: The closest airport is in Chennai from where you can call an Auroville Taxi

Things to do nearby: Explore some unique boutique restaurants in Puducherry (a former French colony) to savour some of the best French cuisine served in India.

11. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

A part of the Thar Desert in Gujarat, the Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. If you are planning a visit, the ideal time is the 3 month long Rann Utsav organised by the Government of Gujarat, starting on 1st of November 16 and ending on 20th February 2017. Not only do you get to sightsee, but also sample the local culture, cuisine and craftsmanship too.

Traveller tip: Make sure you witness a sunset when visiting the Rann of Kutch.

Things to do nearby: A place for some amazing shopping, Kutch is known for its exquisite variety of weaving, patchwork, block-printing, tie-and-dye and rogan-art.

12. Ellora Caves, Aurangabad

The Ellora Caves are the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, the caves represent the artwork of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The Kailasha temple in Cave 16, which is shaped like a chariot, is the largest monolithic rock excavation in the world.

Traveller tip: There are over a 100 caves at the site, of which 34 are open to public viewing.

Things to do nearby: From here you can also visit the Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple which is just a kilometre away.

13. Pangong Tso, Ladakh

A beautiful vision of crystal clear blue, Pangong Tso is situated at a height of 4,250 meters. Spread over 120 km, the lake lies across the borders of India and China. During winters, when the lake freezes completely, an ice staking festival is organised on the frozen lake which gets participation from skaters from all over the world. There are also a number of local cultural performances during this time.

Traveller tip: The lake falls under disputed territory and visitors require a pass from the deputy commissioner of Leh.

Things to do nearby: You can visit the monastery nearby called Tangtse Gompa.

14. Konark Sun Temple, Odisha

Built in the 13th century, the Sun temple of Konark is designed as a chariot of the Sun God and is mounted on 24 wheels, drawn by 7 horses. There are three images of the Sun God at three different sides of the temple which catch the rays of the sun, morning, noon and evening. This temple was also called the ‘Black Pagoda’ by European sailors due to its dark colour.

Traveller tip: The Konark Dance festival, being held in February 2017, is a good time to visit the temple.

Things to do nearby: Take a stroll on Chandrabhaga beach which is just 3 km from Konark temple.

15. Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand

High in the lofty Himalayas, the Valley of Flowers is a vibrant national park, known for its charming meadows of alpine flowers. The valley is snow clad for most of the year and is opened for visitors from June till September. Visitors need to trek 17 kms from Gobindghat to get to the valley. As the park is open from 8 am to 5 pm only, the return trek needs to be completed on the same day. There is no camping allowed.

Traveller tip: August is the best time to go, as the flowers are in full bloom.

Things to do nearby: If you are an avid trekker, go for a trek to Hemkund Sahib which is close by.

16. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the Hawa Mahal, built with red and pink sandstone, is an iconic landmark of Jaipur. Known as the ‘Palace of Winds’, the Hawa Mahal is a pyramid shaped façade made of 953 windows and decorated with intricate designs, meant to provide the women of the royal family a view of everyday life; without appearing in public.

Traveller tip: Take pictures of the monument in the evenings when the beautiful multicolour glass windows reflect the light.

Things to do nearby: Visit the Jantar Mantar and the City Palace, which are within walking distance.

17. Dasaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi

Dasaswamedh Ghat is the heart of the action in Varanasi. This is the place where the Ganga aarti takes place every evening. One of the oldest and holiest ghats in Varanasi, there is a constant melee of pilgrims, visitors, priests and vendors here and you can watch this energetic carnival for hours without getting bored.

Traveller tip: This is a great place to capture the many colourful facets of India.

Things to do nearby: Take a trip to Darbhanga Ghat which has an imposing palace built by the royal family of Bihar in the early 1900s.

18. Living Root Bridges, Cherrapunjee

Take a walk along the villages of Cherrapunjee, and you’ll spot more than a hundred root bridges. Each of these bridges have been fashioned by locals and can hold up to 50 adults. Root bridges take about 10-15 years to grow, and become stronger with the passage of time. There are some which maybe well over 500 years old! The most notable amongst these is the ‘Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge’, probably the only one of its kind in the world.

Traveller tip: Make sure you carry boots and raincoats as this is the wettest region in India.

Things to do nearby: Do visit the Nohkalikai Falls, one of the most striking waterfalls in the region and the Mawsmai Cave.

Heritage Sites in India

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Sometimes, it is easy to overlook just how unique India is. In terms of cultural diversity, history, spirituality and our rich socio-cultural ethos – there simply is no other like it.

That is precisely why our land has been blessed with sites and spectacles so distinguished in their nature, that they had to be lauded. Today, we pick our choice of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India that you have to visit.

1. Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Famed for its great one-horned rhinoceros and its abundance of biodiversity spots, Kaziranga National Park is perhaps the best chance for wild game in the country. The Assam Government has made herculean efforts to preserve the range of flora and fauna here, helped, of course by the designation of this park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best Time to Visit: Between November and April.

How to Get Here: Take a flight to Guwahati, about 217 kms from the park. From here, taxis should get you to the Park.

Where to Stay: The Green Village Resort (Rs. 2500 per night), Green Reed Resort (Rs. 1299 per night), Dhansiri Eco Camp (Rs. 1500 per night)

2. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Nestled along the gentle slopes of the Himalayas in Assam, the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary plays host to a wide array of wildlife including the Indian elephant, the Indian rhinoceros, tiger, and the pygmy hog. Designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1985, the Sanctuary is notable for its biosphere reserve, including tropical forests and grasslands.

Best Time to Visit: Between October and April

How to Get Here: Reach the Guwahati Airport by flight. From the airport, take a taxi to cover the 176 kms to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary.

Where to Stay: Hotels here can be found at a typical price range of Rs. 1600 per night.

3. Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bihar

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the most revered sites of Buddhism across the world. Known for the Bodhi Tree which is where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, the complex comprises seven different Buddhist spiritual sites, including the Bodhi Tree and the 50-metre-tall Mahabodhi Temple.

Best Time to Visit: Between November and February

How to Get Here: Mahabodhi Temple Complex lies about 96 kms from Bihar’s capital, Patna. Take a taxi from the Patna airport to reach here.

Where to Stay: Bodhgaya Regency Hotel (Rs. 4000 per night), Hotel Bodh Vilas (Rs. 1550 per night), Hotel Lumbini International (Rs. 1245 per night)

Book Your Stay at Hotel Bodh Vilas

4. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

Built in 1565-1572 by Begum Bega, the first wife of Humayan, this tomb is one of the few monuments to have undergone several restoration works. Featuring as a preferred hangout for college students and tourists alike, Humayun’s Tomb is perhaps the most photographed site in New Delhi. It also features several smaller monuments and tombs within its premises.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Humayun’s Tomb is located near Central Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: Hotel the Royal Plaza (Rs. 4930 per night), The Classic Diplomat (Rs. 3150 per night), Red Fox Hotel (Rs. 3699 per night)

5. Qutub Minar, Delhi

Qutubuddin Aibak and Iltutmish’s legacy of the Delhi Sultanate to posterity, the Qutub Minar is synonymous with the New Delhi landscape and skyline, just like the Eiffel is to Paris. It is also known for the Iron Pillar which has, despite the ravages of time and weather, resisted rust.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Qutub Minar is located in South Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: The Suryaa (Rs. 6375 per night), The Hans (Rs. 4499 per night), Hotel Regent Grand (Rs. 3250 per night)

6. Red Fort, Delhi

Famous for its Persian, Timuri and Indian architectural influences, the Red Fort (distinctive for its red sandstone) was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate the move of the royal court from Agra to Delhi, and his founding of the city of Shahjahanabad. Known as the centrepiece of historic Old Delhi, Red Fort is also located close to the sprawling Jama Masjid complex.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: The Red Fort is located near Central Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: Lemon Tree Premier (Rs. 5149 per night), The Suryaa (Rs. 6375 per night), The Hans (Rs. 4499 per night), Hotel Regent Grand (Rs. 3250 per night)

7. Churches and Convents, Goa

With the onset of Portuguese rule in Goa during the 15th and 16th centuries, the period also witnessed the construction of several churches and convents in an attempt to evangelize the local populace into Christianity. The churches of Goa display Baroque, Manueline and Mannerist art forms and are truly a sight to see.

Best Time to Visit: October to January, June to September

How to Get Here: Take a cab from the Goa Airport to take a sightseeing tour of the churches and convents.

Where to Stay: Hotel Colva Kinara (Rs. 2500 per night), Neelam’s The Grand (Rs. 3499 per night), Golden Tulip Goa (Rs. 3760 per night)

8. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat

Located in the Panchmahal district, the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is centred upon the medieval city of Muhammadabad which was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada in the 16th century. While the Park contains 11 different types of heritage monuments, the truly fascinating element here is that a majority of Champaner-Pavagadh remains unexcavated. This is also the only completely unaltered pre-Mughal city in India.

Best Time to Visit: October to February

How to Get Here: The nearest airport is Vadodara at a distance of 42 kms. Vadodara Railway Station at 48 kms is another option.

Where to Stay: Accommodations are available here for a typical price range of Rs. 2100 per night.

9. Hampi

Featuring in any tourist’s travel plan whilst in Karnataka or, for that matter, South India – Hampi’s richly preserved ruins of one of the greatest Hindu medieval empires is worth it. From the finely carved Dravidian architecture to temples such as Achyutaraya, Vitthala, Narasimha and – perhaps the greatest of them all – Virupaksha, the Hampi Group of Monuments is truly a sight to behold.

Best Time to Visit: April to September, October to March

How to Get Here: Bellary and Belgaum airports are the closest to Hampi, at about 350 kms away. The nearest railhead is Hospet, about 13 kms away.

Where to Stay: Hotel Malligi (Rs. 2200 per night), Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari (Rs. 1500 per night), Hotel Hampi International (Rs. 2600 per night)

10. Pattadakal

Another Karnataka contender, Pattadakal’s claim to UNESCO fame is its incredible Chalukyan style architecture blended with Dravidian and Nagara influences. Pattadakal was the coronation site for the powerful Chalukyan rulers and includes 8 temples of Shaivite and Jain origins. Some of the temples to visit here are Virupaksha, Sangameshwara and Chandrashekhara temples.

Best Time to Visit: July to September

How to Get Here: The nearest airport is Belgaum at a distance of 180 kms. Badami is the nearest railway station, located approximately 22 kms from Pattadakal.

Where to Stay: Accommodations can be found here at a usual price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

11. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

The monolithic pillars, Buddhist monasteries and Mauryan architecture at Sanchi makes it a worthy qualifier for the UNESCO World Heritage Site laurel. Commissioned by Ashoka the Great in 3rd century BC, the monuments at Sanchi are the oldest Buddhist structures in India. The most celebrated monument here is surely the Sanchi Stupa – a hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Great Buddha.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal is the nearest air link. Take a train till Vidhisha to cover the rest of the short distance to Sanchi via taxi.

Where to Stay: Sanchi Green (Rs. 2288 per night), Hotel Sambodhi (Rs. 2199 per night)

12. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka depict the earliest traces of human life in the Indian subcontinent. With Stone Age inscriptions and cave paintings dating back to the Mesolithic Period (over 100,000 years ago) the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are a collection of five rocks nestled along the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains. An important archaeological and tourist site, the Rock Shelters should feature on travel plans in Madhya Pradesh, along with the Sanchi Stupa.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal is the nearest air link to the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.

Where to Stay: Good accommodations can be found at a price range of Rs. 3000 per night.

13. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Perhaps one of the most famous Hindu monuments in the country, the Khajuraho Monuments depict Nagara erotic symbolism with stone carvings in sensuous poses. Standing testament to the rich cultural heritage of India, these monuments were built between 950 and 1050 AD and consist of 85 temples built in Chandella architectural style.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: The best way to reach Khajuraho is via air, to the Khajuraho Airport. Jhansi Railway Station is the nearest railway link.

Where to Stay: Ramada (Rs. 1999 per night), Taj Hotel Chandela (Rs. 3000 per night), Hotel Isabel Palace (Rs. 2250 per night)

14. Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta and Ellora Caves were among the first Indian monuments to be designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dating back to 2nd century BC, the Caves comprise some of the most exquisite masterpieces of 31 rock-cut sculptures, paintings and Buddhist shrines. Built over two periods under the Satavahana and Vakataka dynasties, the Ajanta Caves mark the beginning of the Indian Classical Art and continue to have a huge influence on Indian art ethos.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

How to Get Here: Aurangabad Airport is the nearest air link for the Ajanta caves. Aurangabad Railway Station is the nearest railhead.

Where to Stay: Accommodations here come at a typical price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

15. Ellora Caves

Situated about 29 kilometres from Aurangabad, the Ellora Caves are a collection of 34 caves dating back from 600 to 1000 AD. The Hindu, Jain and Buddhist sculptures and architecture in these caves is a perfect anecdote for the religious and cultural tolerance that has proliferated across the Indian subcontinent since time immemorial.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

How to Get Here: Aurangabad Airport is the nearest air link for the Ajanta caves. Aurangabad Railway Station is the nearest railhead.

Where to Stay: Accommodations here come at a typical price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

India truly is a gem of history, culture and socio-ethnic vibrance and these fabulous, unique sites prove just that. So, which UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be featuring in your travel plans?

Fabulous Holidays Packages to Enjoy India

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After the soaring heat of May and June, July slips in with a promise of tranquility, rain showers and natural abundance. This year, do not limit the experience of enjoying the rains to your balconies; get your backpack on and gear up to enjoy some of the coolest monsoons destinations in India without upsetting your budget. Here’s a list of some breath-taking places you can explore under 10K.

After the soaring heat of May and June, July slips in with a promise of tranquility, rain showers and natural abundance. This year, do not limit the experience of enjoying the rains to your balconies; get your backpack on and gear up to enjoy some of the coolest monsoons destinations in India without upsetting your budget. Here’s a list of some breath-taking places you can explore under 10K this July.

1. Goa


Goa

Come monsoon, and Goa adorns a serene and fresh look. It is a myth that most of Goa closes down during monsoons. While the rush of international tourists settles during this season, Indian tourists flock the place in good numbers, lured by the great travel deals one can bag.

Best from: Mumbai

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1,200 – 1500 per day (approx.) Homestays, B&Bs and hotels – you name it and Goa has something to suit every pocket. A few good options for budget hotels in Goa are The Queeny Hotel, The Citadel Hotel and Ruffles Beach Resort.

Food: INR 600 per day per head (approx.) Goan cuisine offers a perfect blend of Indian and Portuguese cooking styles. Some popular restaurants where you can enjoy a great meal at a reasonable price include Cafe Lazydays (Continental, Sea Food), Gene Garden (North Indian) and Cafe Del Mar (Goan cuisine).

Transport: A number of deluxe buses ply between Mumbai and Goa at INR 450 (one-way trip). Upon reaching Goa, you can rent a bike at just INR 200 per day. For local travel, you can also choose public transport like buses, autos and shared cabs.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4,500 (Stay) + INR 1800 (Food) + INR 1600 (Transport) = INR 7900 per person.

2. Wayanad

Thick greenery, picturesque surroundings and abundant rainfall make Wayanad a perfect monsoon getaway. Moreover, the place is quiet and free of touristy crowds. Little wonder that Wayanad has emerged as a popular tourist destination in South India in the recent past.

Best from: Bengaluru/Kerala

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1300 per day (approx.) There are a number of family budget hotels in Wayanad. Some popular choices are Sanctuary Grand Hotel, Hotel Brahmagiri Mananthavady and Wayanadia Resort Hotel.

Food: INR 600-700 per day (approx.). While South Indian food is the staple cuisine, you can also savour multi-cuisine food at the Jubilee Restaurant or the Chembra Heritage. Or simply visit Udupi for some authentic South Indian food.

Transport: Your bus or train journey from Bengaluru or Kochi to Wayanad will just cost you INR 500 (one way). Once in the city, you have a number of options like buses, taxis, autos or local trains to choose from. Even if your budget is as low as INR 250 – 300 per day, you can manage local travel comfortably.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 3900 (Stay) + INR 2100 (Food) + INR 1900 (Transport) = INR 7,900 per person.

Book Your Stay at Wayanadia Resort Hotel

3. Nainital


Nainital

Best from: Delhi/Lucknow

If you have a soulful vacation in mind, Nainital is just the place to be. Enjoy a walk in the woods or simply quench your inner self as rain showers hit the ground and grey clouds take a bow.

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1600 per day (approx.) Monsoon spells great deals on hotels since it is conventionally off-season in Nainital. You can choose from a number of budget accommodations like Himalayan View Pangot, Leena Holiday Resorts or Apical Resort.

Food: INR 600 per day (approx.) Restaurants in Nainital bring to you a wide spread to choose from. Savour Thai and Italian cuisine at the Machan Restaurant. Binge on Asian delicacies at the Sakley Restaurant, or enjoy Mughlai/Punjabi food at Sher-e-Punjab.

Transport: Whether you are travelling to Nainital from Uttar Pradesh or Delhi, your to and fro journey will cost you approximately INR 900. You can travel in and around Nainital through readily available local transport, which should not cost you more than INR 500 per day.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4800 (Stay) + INR 1800 (Food) + INR 2400 (Transport) = INR 9000 per person.

Book Your Stay at Apical Resort

4. Mount Abu

Best from: Ahmedabad or Jaipur

Mount Abu is the only hill station in the desert region of Rajasthan. It has great mythological relevance, and is known for the famous Dilwara Temples. Mount Abu is a prominent tourist destination in the Aravallis, and is especially popular during monsoon and winter season.

Hotel: INR 1350 per day (approx.) Mount Abu is a popular weekend getaway, and therefore, has a number of decent 3-star hotels available within a reasonable budget. Some well-rated hotels in Mount Abu are Hotel Royal Heritage, Hotel Ambika and Babbars Den.

Food: INR 800 per day (approx.) From street food to authentic Rajasthani food, Mount Abu is a heaven for foodies. Treat your taste buds with hot mirchi wadas, dhoklas or crisp kachoris. Or you can opt for a Rajasthani spread complete with gutte, kadi and dal-baati-churma.

Transport: You can book your two way journey between Ahmedabad/Jaipur to Mount Abu in just about INR 1000. For local sightseeing, you can rent a car for INR 800 – 1000 for a day, or use readily-available auto-rickshaws. Bikes and scooties are also available for rent at just INR 250-300 per day.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4050 (Stay) + INR 2500 (Transport) + INR 2400 (Food) = INR 9400 per person.

Book Your Stay at Hotel Royal Heritage

5. Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal

Best from: Chennai

Kodaikanal is one of the most pristine hill stations in Tamil Nadu. Known for its evergreen forests, Kodaikanal wears a mystic look during the monsoons. Apart from the regular tourist spots, you can trek along the lake to enjoy some peaceful moments.

Hotel: INR 1400 per day (approx.) Kodaikanal has several inns, cottages and 3-star hotels like B’s Hive, Hotel Green Park and Hotel Valley View Inn, which promise a pocket-friendly and comfortable stay.

Food: INR 700 per day (approx.) Enjoy authentic cuisine packed with flavours of the Middle East at Altaf’s Café or have a wholesome meal at Hotel Astoria, famous for its thalis. You can also savour Gujarati food the Patel Restaurant or enjoy delicacies from the sea at Hilltop Towers.

Transport: A number of trains shuttle between Chennai and Kodaikanal. You can book a two-way journey well within INR 800 (approx.). Full-day local tour packages to popular places can be booked for INR 350 (approx.).

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4200 (Stay) + INR 1850 (Transport) + INR 2100 (Food) = INR 8150 per person.

5 Awesome Destinations that are Just a Cheap Flight Away

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Whoever said that vacations are expensive, was wrong. Flights can be a major chunk of the expenditure, so let’s take care of that first. Here is a list of 5 awesome holiday destinations, all of which are just a cheap flight away!

Whoever said that vacations are expensive, was wrong. Flights can be a major chunk of the expenditure, so let’s take care of that first. Here is a list of 5 awesome holiday destinations, all of which are just a cheap flight away!

1. Goa

There’s no place in the world more addictive than Goa. There’s so much to explore even after you’re done with the popular beaches of Baga, Calangute and Anjuna, and night markets in North Goa. If you’re looking for places less travelled, hit the Arossim, Utorda and Majorda beaches in South Goa, and take a walk on the broken bridge—it’s thrilling and scary at the same time! Don’t forget to visit the churches in Panjim—Basilica of Bom Jesus is an architectural gem, and Sé de Santa Catarina is the largest church in Old Goa. Take a walk across old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to discover its many treasures just waiting to be unravelled. Meet some locals and start a conversation about the haunted houses in Goa, and you’ll be surprised as to how many actually exist. Don’t forget to sample the world famous Goan sausages and the seafood, especially Calamari.

Fares: Starting INR 3,429* from Delhi and INR 3,156* from Ahmedabad

2. Varanasi

Our very own ‘City of Gods’, Varanasi is not just for the religious and spiritual but also for the open- minded. One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi is everything you imagine India to be. Whether you’re a believer or not, a visit to the Bhairav Mandir, Vishwanath and Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple will leave you enchanted. Go for the evening aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat—it’s an experience like no other. For those searching for historical trivia, head to Ramnagar Fort, or take a day tour to Sarnath Temple to see the tallest Buddha statue and the Archeological Survey of India Museum. To explore the city and its many mysteries, book a 3-hour sunrise boat tour along the holy Ganges, or set off on a 3-hour walking tour of the city and along the ghats.

Fares: Starting INR 2,108* from Delhi

3. Jaipur

Jaipur is the jewel of Rajasthan. Easily accessible with a slew of budget hotels to choose from, Jaipur is a favourite destination among budget travellers. Revel in the beauty and the architecture of Hawa Mahal and while you’re there, find your way to Pandit ki Kulfi for a sweet ending. Another unmissable place to visit in Jaipur is the Amer Fort. Its size, magnitude and views are going to bowl you over. Don’t forget to visit the Jaigarh Fort museum right below it. For a taste of the royal heritage of Jaipur, head to City Palace, the opulent 18th-century palace of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a part of which has been converted to a museum. For shopping enthusiasts, Jaipur is a haven of precious and semi-precious gemstone jewellery, as well as vegetable-dyed block printed clothes and bed linen. Don’t miss picking up a dyed scarf in ‘leheriya’ pattern. Foodies can enjoy Rajasthani dishes like Dal Baati Churma, Pyaz Kachori, Mirchi Pakoda, Makhaniya Lassi and more.

Fares: Starting INR 2,546* from Mumbai

4. Bagdogra

Bagdogra, a quaint little town located in the Siliguri district of West Bengal, is the gateway to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok and Pelling. This town is usually a transit point for Darjeeling or Sikkim, but it can be a very rewarding holiday destination in itself! Famous for its serene environment, tea plantations and state-organised festivals on the banks of River Teesta, the city offers scenic views of the eastern Himalayan range. River rafting, trekking, mountaineering and camping are some of the activities that you can indulge in, here. You can also visit the Salugara Monastery founded by the Tibetan Lama, Kalu Rinpoche. Thousands of people visit the city, only to witness the 110 feet tall stupa, beautiful relics and idols in the monastery.

Fares: Starting INR 2,651* from Delhi

5. Kochi

Capital of ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala, Kochi surely packs a punch. You can swim at the palm-fringed Cherai Beach at low tide, or just hang around to watch the sunset. History buffs, take a heritage walk around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. A visit to the Kochi Fort will leave you thrilled. Munambam Beach in Vypeen Island is a hidden treasure for those who like to escape the crowds. If you’re a shopaholic and on a budget, you’ll love to spend an afternoon at the LuLu Mall, Asia’s biggest and incidentally the cheapest! Don’t forget to try Malabari cuisine and eat as much seafood as you can.

Fares: Starting INR 1,448* from Bengaluru

3 Fab Day Trips to Take from Goa on a Rainy Day

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If you think Goa is all about the sun and the sand, it may be because you haven’t experienced the place during the monsoons. Rid of the cacophony of tourists, the rain-washed verdant landscapes turn velvety. And the best way to savour it all is to hop into a car and head out on a day trip from Goa

If you think Goa is all about the sun and the sand, it may be because you haven’t experienced the place during the monsoons. Rid of the cacophony of tourists, the rain-washed verdant landscapes turn velvety. And the best way to savour it all is to hop into a car and head out on a day trip from Goa.

1. Witness the Dudhsagar Falls in all Their Milky Glory

Goa is home to about forty waterfalls, the most pristine of which is the Dudhsagar Falls—where the river Mandovi plummets with full force. And the drive towards it on a rainy day is a mere appetiser to the feast that lies ahead. About 60 km from Panaji, on the NH4A, the Dudhsagar—named so for its milky white, frothy cascades—roars down to the grounds from a height of 1107 ft., and is quite the sight to behold. Drive to the foot of the fall, at Kulhem, and take a bike ride to the falls. You could also consider a trek to get to it. The drive through the slippery, steep inclines and slushy muddy roads will stay with you forever.

2. Drive into Wilderness at Goa’s Many Wildlife Sanctuaries

 

Monsoons are the best time to visit the wildlife sanctuaries around Goa. Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary, Mollem National Park, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary are all an hours’ drive (or a little over) from Panaji. About 60–80 km from Panaji, the sanctuaries show up after the most calming drives through the rain-drenched scenery. The unending roads through the forests are usually deserted, and this is the best time to sight the wildlife in the area—bisons, monkeys, herds of deer—all against the constant buzz of crickets and other insects. In some of the sanctuaries, you might even be able to get a glimpse of lions in their habitat.

3. Soak up the Beauty of Spice Plantations

Follow the spice trails of Goa as the rains soak everything around with their magic. Head to either Pascoal Spice Farm, a 15-minute drive from town, or Savoi Spice Plantations, closer from the centre of town. The stretch between Candolim Beach and the part of town in North Goa that leads to the Savoi Spice Plantations is scenic beyond belief. Add to it the dark tar roads stretching out amidst crisp greens and browns, and you have the perfect drive for a rainy afternoon. The rain-drenched spice gardens are a treat to walk around, with a guide introducing you to say, vanilla, green pepper pods, or even fresh ginger. Take in the aroma of them all, mixed with the fresh fragrances of the earth. End your day with a freshly-made meal that most of these plantations serve.

Luxury Weekend Getaways: Explore India’s

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Keen on an engaging date with Indian history on your next quick getaway but don’t want to drown your day visiting monuments? Also wary of compromising on luxury while there? We’ve drawn up an exciting list of Indian UNESCO sites beyond the monuments and matched each one of them with a plush hotel for you to stay at. From national parks and railways to iconic architectural marvels, there is so much you can choose from, for your next lavish heritage vacation.

Keen on an engaging date with Indian history on your next quick getaway but don’t want to drown your day visiting monuments? Also wary of compromising on luxury while there? We’ve drawn up an exciting list of Indian UNESCO sites beyond the monuments and matched each one of them with a plush hotel for you to stay at. From national parks and railways to iconic architectural marvels, there is so much you can choose from, for your next lavish heritage vacation.

​UNESCO site worth visiting: The Kaziranga National Park in Assam

The national park that hosts two-thirds of the world’s exotic one-horned Rhino population, has earned itself the status of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the exemplary conservation efforts in preserving this endangered species. A trip to Assam calls for exploring the vast expanse of this national park that is also home to wild buffaloes, Asiatic elephants, Royal Bengal Tiger and 15 other protected species.

We suggest you stay at: Vivanta by Taj, Guwahati

The highlight of Vivanta by Taj in Guwahati is its imposing façade, and architecture borrowed straight from the cultural ethos of Assam. The hotel’s design is inspired by the aesthetics of Rang Ghar, a popular royal amphitheatre of the Ahom dynasty. The Gamocha pattern and bamboo cane interweave incorporated in the interiors, Xingkhap murals adorning the room walls and 1,008 sacred bells hanging in the lobby make the place look like an urban sanctuary, where history meets modernity. Kaziranga national park, at about 200 kms away from the hotel, makes for a memorable day-trip. Request the hotel to arrange a private taxi for you to visit Kaziranga and start early in the morning to make the most of the elephant or jeep safari there. Afterwards, you can head to Behora and Bokakhat, which are known for their lush tea gardens. At Bokakhat, visit historic temples and monasteries, Kakochang Falls, and the Numaligarh ruins at Deopahar.

UNESCO site worth visiting: The Great Himalayan National Park in Manali

Surrounded by imposing mountain peaks on three sides and interspersed by Beas, Jiwa, Sainj and Tirthan rivers, this national park is a hit among nature lovers and trekkers. Owing to its significance in biodiversity conservation, it earned the World Heritage Site tag in 2014. You can hope to spot Himalayan griffon vultures, golden eagles, raptors, lammergeyers, the endangered western tragopan and more than 50 species of migratory birds. If you feel up to some trekking, you can explore famous trails such as the Neuli-Sarangarh loop, Sainj-Tirthan valley, Neuli- Sainj valley, JiwaNala- Parvati River valley and Gushaini-Tirthan valley. To truly soak up the experience of being in the lap of nature, you’d need an entire day to explore the expanse of this national park spread over 750 square kilometres.

We suggest you stay at: The Himalayan Resort and Spa, Manali

The Himalayan Resort and Spa perched at a height of 2003 metres, is a haven rather close to the Great Himalayan National Park, tucked away amidst pristine snow-clad mountains and plunging waterfalls. Built in Victorian Gothic Revival style, the interiors of the resort are accentuated by elaborate clover trelliswork and coffered wood ceilings. The property is divided into two parts – the main wing or The Castle, and The Cottage. All the rooms are equipped with modern-day amenities, along with a fireplace and four-poster beds lending them a rare antique charm. The hotel’s in-house spa amid cherry and apple orchards is designed to pamper its guests.

UNESCO site worth visiting: Nilgiri Mountain Railways in Ooty

A part of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Mountain Railways of India, this mountain train connects Ooty to Metupalaiyam, running through the glorious Nilgiri Hills. The 46-kilometre track includes 250 bridges and 16 tunnels, and offers an up-close glimpse of the rocky terrain, tea plantations, ravines and forested hills. The Swiss-made steam locomotive and the blue and cream wooden carriages with enormous windows make this toy train a delightful sight by itself. The train leaves the Mettupalayam station at 7.10 am and arrives in Ooty at 12.00, and starts its return journey to Mettupalayam at 2.00 pm. Covering 46 kilometres in over 5 hours, this train journey is akin to a prolonged joy ride. Tickets for first and second class travel can be pre-booked or you can just hop on with an unreserved ticket for INR 15 at the last moment.

We suggest you stay at: WelcomHeritage Ferrnhills Royale Palace, Ooty

Situated on a 50-acre estate, the WelcomHeritageFerrnhills Royale Palace is a heritage hotel set up in the summer palace of the Mysore Maharajas. The hotel building sits majestically amid sprawling lawns, with a stunning view of tea gardens and a lush green valley. The hotel has 19 regal suites, a magnificent heritage ballroom, Jacuzzi-fitted baths and a multi-cuisine dining area. The interiors are done up in Burmese teak, and the papier-mâché ceilings further enhance its aesthetic appeal.

UNESCO site worth visiting: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai

A visit to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is recommended for witnessing gothic architecture in its full grandeur, which reflects in many Mumbai landmarks. Declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ in 2004, the CST is synonymous with the advent of railways in India. The exteriors of the building, with a mix of spires, domes, turrets and gables, are exceedingly imposing for a three-storeyed structure. The interiors too are adorned with animal and floral patterns, with the central dome housing a 14-foot-tall Progress Statue. Spend some time strolling down Colaba Causeway for shopping and chilling at some of the iconic cafes like Leopold and Mondegar. Take a trip on one Mumbai’s locals to get an up-close feel of the city’s lifeline.

We suggest you stay at: ITC Grand Central, Mumbai

Mumbai has a curious quality of straddling two distinct worlds, and this ethos is starkly evident at the ITC Grand Central that combines the city’s remnant Victorian charm and colonial past with its modern present. The architecture of this luxury hotel is a blend of British colonial style and modern contemporary design. All 242 rooms and 19 suites in the property have been tastefully furnished to recreate a fabled grandeur complemented by luxurious comforts.

Exploring one of these UNESCO destinations could be the perfect way to spend a long weekend, and you’ll surely return home with a lot of stories to tell. Plan your trip now – your luxury heritage vacation is just a short flight away!

Things to Do in Kerala

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Sunsets are some of the most beautiful moments that nature offers to us on a platter and all for free. If the famous Kovalam Beach is already on your bucker list, ensure catching the sunset moment while you’re there. Visit the Lighthouse beach, the peaceful Samudra beach and the Hawah beach too.

From cruising the backwaters in a houseboat to trekking through the wilderness in Periyar to exploring sprawling tea gardens and spice plantations, Kerala is a treasure trove of experiences for any avid traveller. But if you’re looking to trim your travel budget without notching down the fun, check out our list of free experiences that are unique to God’s Own Country.

1. Immerse Yourself in Village Life

One of the best ways to enjoy and understand how a place ticks is to go into the villages and see how the locals live. You can lend a hand in the emerald paddy fields, canoe through mangrove forests, learn about crab farming and even try fishing in the Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village or some of the other villages across Kerala.

2. See a Theyyam Performance

Don’t leave Kerala without watching Theyyam, a beautiful and traditional dance form that is an important part of the culture of Kerala. Staged at several temples across North Kerala, especially in the districts of Kasargod and Kannur, Theyyam performances can go on for 12-24 hours. Do check the Theyyam calendar online before planning your trip.

3. Get charmed at Fort Kochi

If history and architecture entice you, the eclectic Fort Kochi with its blend of Arab, British, Dutch, Chinese and Portuguese influences is just the place for you to explore. You can opt for a walking tour or get onto a bicycle as you visit the Jewish synagogue, Santa Cruz Basilica, the Fort Kochi beach and the Chinese fishing nets.

4. Photograph the Snake Boat Races

If you happen to be in Alappuzha during the Onam festival, don’t miss the famous Snake Boat Races that take place between July and September. Take some amazing photographs of the race, or ever better, make a video of it to take back for friends and family.

5. Spot Rare Birds in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

If you’re a nature aficionado, you must pencil in this place into your itinerary. Carry a pair of binoculars and your camera as you go on a bird-watching trip. A host of migratory birds visit the bird sanctuary, with November to February being the best months to spot exotic birds like the Siberian crane, Water fowl, Herons and Egrets.

6. Swim in the Mineral Water Springs at Varkala Beach

The mineral water springs at the Varkala Beach are known for their medicinal properties. If you’ve been looking for some healing or are curious about these springs, then head to the pristine beach. You can also swim in the Arabian Sea and enjoy your time at the beach, while you’re here. December through March is the best times to visit the Varkala Beach.

7. Take part in a temple festival

Temple festivals in Kerala are an elaborate and colourful affair, with processions of bejewelled elephants, musicians and drummers and beautifully-decorated floats carrying deities. Soak in the fervour and faith as hundreds of people from across the town and villages throng to these festivals.

8. Frolic at the Athirapally Waterfalls


(Photo courtest: Wikimedia Commons/heb)

If you’ve been inspired by the Liril Girl splashing about under a waterfall as summer sets in, how about emulating her at the 80-feet tall Athirapally Falls, which is just 50 kilometers from the Kochi International Airport! Also known as the Niagra Falls of India, it’s at its gushing best from June to September.

9. Explore Muziris, an Ancient Port City

Just an hour’s drive from Kochi, Muziris was once a very important trading port. Choc-a-bloc with old temples, mosques, synagogues and churches, Muziris is also known for the Cheraman Juma Masjid—the first mosque in India. You can walk through Muzaris on your own or sign up for an organized heritage tour.

10. Witness a Spectacular Sunset at Kovalam Beach

Sunsets are some of the most beautiful moments that nature offers to us on a platter and all for free. If the famous Kovalam Beach is already on your bucker list, ensure catching the sunset moment while you’re there. Visit the Lighthouse beach, the peaceful Samudra beach and the Hawah beach too.

With these 10 free experiences to choose from, you can stretch your budget while relishing different facets of this verdant state.

A Backwater Haven Not Ruined By Tourism – Padanna, Kerala

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History suggests that people came to Padne, and the areas surrounding it, from the north of Malabar, specifically, family heads, to sell their produce, which included sweet potatoes, yellow banana, tobacco, & dried fish. Cheena, or the local water transportation system, was their mode of transport. Traders joined the earlier settlers, and today this area is thickly populated, tucked away in the southern tip of Kasaragod district.

Destination – Padanna, Kerala, India

Location – Padanna is a village in the northern part of the state of Kerala, India, south of Kasaragod district. Padanna Panchayat is composed of North and South Padanna villages. It became part of Kerala when the state was formed on November 1, 1956

Coordinates – 12°9′0″N 75°9′0″E

Distance from Hyderabad – to Kasaragod, Kerala, via SH 25 814 kms & via NH 13, about 854 kms. Padanna is about 50 kms from Kasaragod

History suggests that people came to Padne, and the areas surrounding it, from the north of Malabar, specifically, family heads, to sell their produce, which included sweet potatoes, yellow banana, tobacco, & dried fish. Cheena, or the local water transportation system, was their mode of transport. Traders joined the earlier settlers, and today this area is thickly populated, tucked away in the southern tip of Kasaragod district.

This backwater haven is not ruined by tourist influx, which is the case in Southern Kerala, and the local folk offer a stay experience, which is outstanding. These folks have not been corrupted by the tourist ‘greens’, yet.

One such family head there, is G.S.Gul – a quintessential example in being a head of family, a micro-financer, and doing all he can for the poor coastal folk, by applying innovative ideas to build on tourism. The Indian government, have done their bit by awarding a national award to him for Oyster cultivation, but during my stay there, I happened to talk to him at length for hours. He, in his half sleeve shirts, and white lungi, gave me business and tourism ‘gyan’, unlimited.

There are side huts, there are houses in mid air (on/ within the tree), and there is the never to be forgotten house-boat. The food here is meant for lords of both worlds, and Gul and his amazing staff, give you options galore, and see to it, that word-of-mouth marketing and canvassing happens, through suckers like me. You could stay in a house boat for example, and then at night, they will tie a huge rope to the boat, and depending on the tide, will either let you go all the way in, or a little closer to shelter. But at night, someone from the staff comes in a small row boat, delivers food, and lets you stay in the middle of water, gaze the stars, and absorb the eternity. Alternatively, they take you in the small boat to the shore, feed you, and then drop you back.

The back water beaches at Padanna, are virgin, and for kilometres, you don’t see man, mankind, nothing – only water, sand, waves, and maybe your own shadow, if you face the sun in the right fashion, and it then casts your shadow.

My heart still aches when I think of the times there. It is melancholy personified when I think of my wanderings in the surrounding villages over there. I remember reading an article by Muhammad Yunus some time back and his remark on happiness index. I promise you, the people of the real world (cities), need not look further than this place – gorgeous. In addition, Gul also mentioned that he is working on a ‘hut-stay’ concept, since people want to stay like the villagers do. Hence, he is working on a concept, where tourists stay in huts, like the villagers do!

Simple man, with simple ideas, yet effective, like most cannot imagine. I drove down to Padanna, and as Kerala starts, you do realize, that there is a reason that clichés become clichés – it is surely God’s own country, and mortal tourists like me, cannot absorb and feel the entire beauty in 3 or 4 days. I for one, felt like the human in Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, as I was leaving Padanna.

10 Must Visit Places In Gujarat

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Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, has varied terrain and numerous sacred sites. In its urban center of Ahmedabad is the Calico Museum of Textiles, displaying antique and modern Indian fabrics. Spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi’s base from 1917–1930 was Sabarmati Ashram, where his living quarters remain on view. The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), built in the 15th century, has a huge courtyard and a columned design.

Gujarat is one those states in India that you can keep exploring and still feel like you have so much more to see. If you are trying to narrow down your choices of what to do in Gujarat, then we are here to help with our list of must-see places. Here goes:

1. Great Rann of Kutch

The largest salt desert in the world, the Great Rann of Kutch is a sight to behold. The long stretch of salty marsh is a treat to the eye whenever u visit it. There is no season boundation to this place. With a barren land that stretches out towards the horizon, surrounded by hills and some fascinating villages, this is definitely one of the must-see destinations in India.


The desert in Gujarat is a sight to behold

2. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

As the only home of the Asiatic lion, you really don’t need any other reason to visit Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a must see place if you are in Gujarat. Marked as one of the largest province for Asiatic lions, the area is well protected due to the great stretch of vegetation and other species residing in this sanctuary. The king of the jungle reigns supreme here, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit Gir, hyenas, leopards and over 250 species of birds just to name a few.


Go spot the king of the jungle | Photo Credit: Shaunak Modi/Flickr

3. Gandhinagar

Gandhinagar was built as the capital of Gujarat, and is also home to wonderful temples. A home to a large number of renowned Universities, this place has a perfect blend of science merged with culture. Don’t miss Akshardham, built out of 6,000 tonnes of pink sandstone and the seven foot tall statue of Lord Swaminarayan; also you must visit the saffron idol at the Hanuman Temple.

4. Mandvi

The beachside town of Mandvi has long been a favourite holiday destination with its sandy beach and sparkling sea, it is a great place to go boating or even jet-ski. It is a unique town that captures the true colours of Gujarat- Kutchi culture. There is also the Maharaja’s Palace that has the best view in town.

5. Patan & Modhera

Both these towns can be easily visited from Ahmedabad within a few hours. Another example of the Solanki period architecture can be seen in the Anahilwada Patan. It is also famous for its patola sarees and one of the most exquisite step wells in India, the Rani-ki-Vav. Further south in the tiny town of Modhera is one of Gujarat’s best kept secrets, a Sun Temple that rivals the more famous Konark Temple in Odisha.

Patan is famous for an exquisite step-well, Rani-ki-Vav

6. Dwarka

One of the ancient cities of India, Dwarka was once the home of Lord Krishna. This fact makes Dwarka a pilgrimage site for the Hindus. The Dwarakadhish Temple is a popular pilgrimage site, but also remember to visit the Rukmini Devi Temple and Bet Dwarka Temple to get a complete feel for this magical city. There is also one lighthouse near the Gomti ghat. It is a must see place as it accounts to be one of the oldest lighthouses.


Visit the city of Lord Krishna, Dwarka

7. Lothal and Dholavira

With ruins that date back to the ancient Indus Valley civilisation, you can step back into history here. Lothal was once a trading hub that was connected to the Sindh region, and Dholavira is an ancient city that has now been excavated and is believed to be over 100 hectares. It is the fifth largest out of the eight Harappan era sites in India. It is one of the major archaeological sites in India. Located on the Khadir bet island in the Kutch wildlife sanctuary in Great Rann of Kutch, this place is a treat to eye and is a must visit for every visitor.

8. Ahmedabad

No visit to Gujarat is complete without spending some time in the bustling metropolis that is modern day Ahmedabad. Being the administrative capital of the state, Ahemadabad has headquarters of all the major government offices in Gujarat. With many historical sites including the Sabarmati Ashram and the Hathisingh Jain Temple, Ahmedabad also has some lovely lakes to relax by and of course the best shopping in the state.

9. Bhavnagar

Considered to be a cultural hub in Gujarat, Bhavnagar is famous for its silversmiths and poetry in arts circles, but it is the architecture that really leaves an impression here. Head up the hill towards the Takhteshwar Temple for views across the city and to the Gulf of Cambay, and visit the stunning sea-side palace. There are many other palaces to see like Nilambagh Palace, Mangalsinhji Mahal Palace, Bhav Vilas Palace and many more. A must see on the list should be Velavadar Blackbuck National Park as it is the only tropical grassland National Park recognised in India.

10. Somnath

Devotees flock to this spiritual city, home to Somnath Temple, one of the most adorned Shiva temples. Built on the Chalukya style of architecture, it reflects the skills of Somaputra Salats. You can also pay visit to the nearby Kamnath Temple. Take a walk by the beach and just soak in the atmosphere of this divine and peaceful town.

Feel like exploring Gujarat? We offers packages, flights and trains to various destinations in Gujarat.

Gujarat Chronicles – Of Culture, Crafts and Tourism

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If you’re looking for a relaxing walk on a beach, Gujarat has that too! Tithal, the only black sand beach in India, is a treat for the eyes. You could also visit Somnath beach, Dwarka beach and Chorvad beach.

From the birth of Mahatma Gandhi in Porbandar to the historic Dandi March of 1930, Gujarat holds a special place in the history of free India. Gandhiji, K.M Munshi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and a lot of other prominent nationalist leaders played an important role in India’s fight for freedom. The state’s traditional values combined with cultural and geographical diversity made it one of the most popular tourist places in the country.

Gujarat Then and Now

In 1614, European colonial powers set up their bases along the coastline of the state, ending the Maratha rule in Gujarat. This was the beginning of a new era for the state.

Later, during India’s struggle for independence, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati came to the forefront, and the principles of satyagraha, swadeshi and self-sufficiency, spread from Gujarat to the rest of the nation.

Today, Gujarat, with its clean roads, modern infrastructure and architectural wonders, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Whether you want to relax on the beaches or spot Asiatic lions at the Gir National Park, Gujarat will not disappoint the traveller in you.

Things to Do in Gujarat

Gujarat offers a perfect mix of vast coastlines, intricate temples and exotic wildlife.

Don’t leave Gujarat before you:

Do: Take a trip to the Great Rann of Kutch, the popular seasonal salt marsh of Gujarat located at the border of India and Pakistan. Flocks of flamingos and herds of Indian wild ass inhabit the place during the monsoons. If you’re visiting in December, check out the Rann festival, which begins in Bhuj and ends with a grand celebration of Gujarati culture, values and tradition in the open deserts. It offers a variety of cultural events that showcases the country’s crafts, art, music and dance.

Gujarat also has over 25 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to keep the nature lover in you alive. Don’t miss a visit to the Gir National Park, which is home to the last few prides of Asiatic lions in the world.

If you’re looking for a relaxing walk on a beach, Gujarat has that too! Tithal, the only black sand beach in India, is a treat for the eyes. You could also visit Somnath beach, Dwarka beach and Chorvad beach.

Whether you’re interested in architectural marvels or spirituality, the Jain temples in Girnar are a must-visit.

Eat: Gujarat is famous for its dhokla, khandvi, khakhra and khaman. Taste them before you proceed to the main dishes like meethi curry and undhiyun, eaten with thepala. Shrikhand and malpua will satisfy your sweet tooth after you’ve enjoyed your delicious meal.

Buy: Embroidered jackets and patola sarees—an ikkat woven sari, usually made from silk, made in Patan. Kutchi handicrafts, popular around the world, are found in abundance in Gujarat. From block printed fabric, luxurious quilts and mirror-work clothing to woodcarving and heavy jewellery, you will definitely find something to take back home with you.

Getting There: Gujarat is well connected to all major states in India via rail, air and roads.